UCA News


Controversial Myanmar pastor faces three years in jail

David Lah is quarantined in a hotel after being treated in hospital for Covid-19

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Controversial Myanmar pastor faces three years in jail

Pastor David Lah, a Canadian passport holder, is a controversial figure because of his polarizing views. (Photo: Facebook)

Share this article :
A controversial Christian pastor from Myanmar faces up to three years in prison after his release from a 21-day quarantine in Yangon.

David Lah and three others were charged with defying a ban on large gatherings imposed to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on March 13.

Under the 2013 natural disaster management law, a disaster caused by a negligent act or by willful action is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and may also be liable to a fine.

The pastor claimed devout Christians were immune to Covid-19 before catching the disease himself in April.

He was discharged from hospital on May 7 after tests showed negative two times, according to health officials.

After Lah’s neighbors objected to him being quarantined at home, he is being kept in a hotel in Yangon, the country’s commercial hub.

Security was tightened around the hotel and legal action will proceed on his release from the quarantine period, according to media reports citing a Yangon social affairs minister.

“It is not true that Lah left the hotel as we are closely watching him through beefing up security. We will proceed on the lawsuit against him,” the minister said.

News spread on social media that Lah is among Canadian citizens who will be evacuated from Myanmar in late May.

In a video clip that went viral in mid-April, Lah told worshipers that those who are really centered on Jesus will not be infected by Covid-19.

Lah, a Canadian passport holder, is a controversial figure because of his polarizing views and has been widely criticized for his anti-LGBT and Islamophobic rhetoric.

At least 71 people in Yangon have been linked to Lah’s church services in Insein and Mayangone townships.

Christian leaders in Myanmar have appealed to citizens in the Buddhist-majority country to work together to fight Covid-19 in unity and love as anti-Christian sentiment surges on social media following the activities of the pastor.

They also urged people not to post and share fake news, photos and videos on Facebook that may be offensive to religion.

Some 12 Muslims from Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, who were gathered at a house for prayers have each been jailed for three months for defying the ban on public gatherings.

In Tanintharyi region in southern Myanmar, authorities are seeking legal advice from the courts to file a lawsuit against organizers of a funeral of Buddhist monk that drew more than 200 attendees in early April.

Myanmar has reported 180 cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 76 recoveries, according to the latest data.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."